Friday 19 April 2019

Read in 2019 - 7: Becoming

Michelle Obama

When I put "Becoming" by Michelle Obama on my wishlist for Christmas last year, I already knew two things: 1. That I was going to receive it and 2. that I was going to enjoy it. On both accounts, I was not disappointed!

Mrs Obama manages to tell her story - for the larger part of her life, so closely interwoven with her husband's - in her own words and in a manner that should appeal to most readers. She writes very well, with a simple elegance that should be easy to understand by nearly all readers, without ever sounding condescending as if she were toning down her ductus to a simplified level.

The book is neatly divided into the three main stages of her life: "Becoming Me" is about her childhood, youth and young adulthood. "Becoming Us" talks of becoming a couple with Barack Obama, marriage and founding their family. "Becoming More" tells of the wider context - the Obamas, their lives, personalities and activities closely connected to their nation as its President and First Family.

All of it has its own charm and intrigue:
The descriptions of what life was like for young "Miche", at home, at school, with her friends, and later at university, make a great read. Sometimes funny, a bit nostalgic, sometimes serious, often making the reader think. As Mrs Obama is only 4 years older than myself, I was surprisingly often able to relate to things mentioned in her book, even though we live on different continents.

Her years studying and as a young professional are very interesting for someone like me who has never been to uni and much as I enjoy my job and have always liked working, has never shown such total, extreme dedication to their work.
The part about the more recent past is of course especially fascinating, offering insights into life at the White House and under the constant scrutiny any public figure or celebrity is subject to, and how she has managed to remain true to herself and never forgot her values.

All through the book, Mrs Obama is remarkably open and honest. I must admit that the only part of the book that, in my opinion, is a bit too open is the one about the Obamas' problems to become parents. As we all know, they have succeeded in their efforts, but I thought the descriptions of those efforts a little too detailed and not strictly necessary for understanding their struggle or the readibility of the book.

She also is honest about her perception of other politicians, heads of states or VIPs she has met during the years of her husband's presidency, but she never says anything vulgar or based simply on her personal likes or dislikes about these people - in other words, she does not judge others.

While I was reading, I often came across a sentence or two that would make great quotes or mottos; gems of wisdom everyone could do with in their lives. Not because Mrs Obama thinks she knows better, but because she has experienced a lot in her life and willingly shares with others what she has found to be true.

This is one lady who can think and speak for herself, and she does it very well.

If you get the chance, I can only recommend you to read this book. Or listen to it as an audio book, read by Mrs. Obama herself - I didn't know about it beforehand, but Monica reviewed it here on her blog not that long ago.

Years ago, I read "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama (click here if you want to read my review). I was interested back then in learning more about Michelle Obama, but rather disappointed with a book I have reviewed here.
Now, no disappointment whatsoever with "Becoming"!


  1. I have read this book and both of my daughters also have copies. We all loved it. There were a number of things I had not known about her growing up and points of view I had not considered until encountering them here.

    1. I am glad you and your daughters have read and loved the book, too! Yes, she does come up with some stuff that really makes one think, and that is always a good thing.

  2. It is on my list of books I intend to read.

    1. It will be interesting to compare notes when you've read it, Pat.

  3. I remember your review of Barack Obama's book and I did actually buy it and it is actually on my 'to read' shelf! A number of friends (all female by coincidence) have read Michelle Obama's book and been very enthusiastic. It will doubtless make its way onto the shelf too.

    1. And when they will eventually have made their way from the shelf into your hands and in front of your eyes, I would like to know your thoughts on both.

  4. My comment just disappeared! Have you installed moderation?

    I said that I still have to read ‘Becoming’ and certainly will do so. I have heard only good things about it.

    I also asked about recommendations for German thriller writers and lightweight amusing novels. I’ll get back to you some time on that.

    1. No, Friko, comment moderation only kicks in when a post is older than 2 weeks, so that I become aware of it. I have just checked everything and there was no unpublished comment from you. Maybe blogger acting up again; thank you for trying again!
      As for German authors, I'm afraid most of my reading is in English and of British or American authors. But my Mum and sister can certainly recommend German books.